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The Light Shines in the Darkness

Sermon Series:

Light Up the Darkness

Ryan Kimmel
Ryan Kimmel

Lead Pastor

Peace Church

Main Passage:
John 20:5-18


Today, this day, today is the day that the Lord has made. So let us rejoice and be glad in it. And everyone said, you know, I heard you singing. You're a lot louder than this. So I'm gonna give you one more chance to do, to do something here. And I know that maybe you got prepped for this, but we'll see. He is risen.

Yeah, yeah, pretty good.

Yeah, we'll come back to that.

We'll see if you still got the energy later on. So for me, I grew up around here. I was born and raised, I've spent 90% of my adult life in this area from Middleville, Wayland, Caledonia. These are the roads that I grew up driving and going down. And one thing I can tell you about growing up in an area and staying there is that over time you see things change. You see the landscape change. And there's something, it seems like I've noticed this year in particular that's changed. And maybe it's been changing for a while, but for some reason it just feels like this year in particular I've really noticed this. And yes, I'm nostalgic, and so I get sad about this, but I'm willing to bet when you find out what I'm talking about, too I think part of your heart might be pricked as well The thing that I've noticed that seems like it's changing a lot this year in particular Is the number of old barns that are beginning to fall down? Have you noticed that Like this is the one across the street here from Peace Church Now I've been at Peace Church for 10 years and I take that way here to work every day. And for 10 years I've seen that barn once stand strong, now not stand at all. And as you drive around, I think you see this everywhere, like here's another one. Or here's one just right up the road here from Peace Church. And this next barn is completely gone. You see a mound there that was built for the entrance of the barn and what is particularly hard about that one for me is the barn that once stood there was the barn that I grew up playing in as a little boy. That's my childhood home. And the barn is completely gone. And yeah, I'm nostalgic.

But here's the thing I'm going to say.

Let me first say this. I'm not criticizing the people who own these barns. This is simply the passage of time. But these barns falling down for me is not just sad, but it's symbolic in many ways. I think what we're seeing in our world is the good old days are gone and a new way of life is emerging. But we have to ask ourselves, is the new life, is the new way that's emerging, is it better? See, these barns falling down makes me wonder, is there anything good that lasts in this world? Is there anything that actually stands the test of time? So let's just move from barns to talk about our lives and our culture for a moment. As things change, how can we ensure that what emerges is better than what we're letting go of. Where can we secure hope that we can trust the future with? Where can we secure ourselves to something that will stand the test of time? Where is that hope? Is there any principles out there that would help guide us into a better future? Is there anything that we can rely on?

When things seem to be going in the wrong direction like I think so many things are, when things seem to be getting so dark, is there a light at the end of the tunnel? And what I'm here to tell you is the answer is yes. There is a light. But listen to me. This light is not found in a philosophy. It's not found in a government or either side of the aisle. It is not found in an institution. It's not even found in a grassroots movement from the next generation.

The light that we can hope and cling our hope to is found in a historical event. It's found in the resurrection of Jesus' closest followers was this guy named John, and he said something that I think has to do with the test of time, and it's actually going to be our main point here for today. He said,

the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Christians, that's our hope.

Are things dark? Yes, but there is a light that shines, and the darkness has not overcome it. People whatever darkness is out there, it cannot overcome this simple truth that God so loved the world that he sent his son to die on a cross in our place for our sins and whoever believes in him shall not perish but have not just life but flourishing life and eternal life and this is guaranteed because he is risen indeed. Amen. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the light that shines in the darkness.

Please if you would turn to John chapter 20. We're going to spend a few moments in verses 5 to 18 today. As you're turning there, let me just lay some context for you. So Jesus Christ has come into this world in hope, in love, in grace, in truth, in authority. He was the light. He was the light of the world But then the unthinkable happens He was killed and his light was extinguished Through a rated-r level torture Jesus faced the most shameful death imaginable. He was scourged and then nailed to a cross where he died and listen to me I know we're on this side of the resurrection, but you have to remember for those disciples when Jesus died They thought that their hope had died with him. When Jesus died, like barns falling down, his followers' hearts had dropped and they thought the good old days are done. There's nothing good that lasts. It's all over.

And then, on the third day, some women went to the tomb where Jesus had been laying. And when they got there, they found that the tomb was empty. And they didn't know what was going on. So Mary Magdalene, one of the women, she ran to go tell the disciples this. And when Peter and John heard this, Peter and John ran back. Now, John was a younger man, so he outran Peter and got there first. And we're going to pick up in our passage as John is entering the tomb. So with that, would you hear the word of the Lord?

John chapter 20. We'll start at verse five and go to verse 18.

5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.


This is God's word. Let's pray and we'll continue. Let's pray.

Father God in heaven above, today we celebrate the most important day to date in all of history. The day that our savior rose from the dead. The day that death was defeated. The day that hope was made secure, the day that proved promises true. Today is the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Help us all to come to know the reality, the beauty, and the power of this fact. We pray these things in the name of the Father, the name of the risen Son, and in the name of the Holy Spirit, we pray these things.

And everyone said amen.

So if you look to this world and you see Darkness, if you see something wrong, I want you to understand the g that the bible speaks right to this If you see darkness, you need to understand the bible says something profound. It says the light shines in the darkness of this world And as we talk about the light shining There's a few things from our past that we're going to pick up. First one is this, the light shines on the evidence. Second thing we're going to see is the light shines to those willing to look. Third thing we're going to see is the light shines through those who have seen the light. So first thing, the light shines on the evidence for the resurrection. Now the Bible is a very unique holy book among the world's top religions. The Bible says something very, very interesting about the Christian faith. The Bible tells us that the entire Christian faith rests on the resurrection. That's an enormously bold claim for a religious book.

First Corinthians 15, 14 says this, "If Christ has not been raised then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain."

The Bible itself is saying that if Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead then we all are wasting our time If Jesus did not rise from the dead and let's just skip this portion of the morning and get right to baskets and brunch But Because Christ did rise from the dead, this makes this the most important thing we can be doing right now. Getting together to celebrate and worship and lift up this historical fact. When we talk about the resurrection, it's interesting because so many Christians are so very weak at being able to defend the very thing that makes or breaks our faith. But when we talk about the resurrection, we're talking about something that physically, actually, literally happened. And the light shines on the evidence that this did happen.

Let me give you three points of evidence here this morning. I wanted to do 10, but our team said, no, you should probably only do three. So because I love you guys, we're just going to do three this morning. We can talk about the other ones later. But three points of evidence for the resurrection.

The empty tomb

The first one is this, the empty tomb. Aside from the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus himself. This is the most important piece of historical evidence Let's talk about this for a second. I don't know where you are in terms of faith. But here's what I can tell you there is no serious historian Christian or non-christian who denied that Jesus was both a real person and that he was actually killed on a Roman cross. This is taken as historical fact. And there's no resurrection of Jesus if Jesus wasn't dead. Jesus Christ was killed on a Roman cross, which by the way, historically speaking, had a 100% kill rate. There is no record ever anywhere of anyone surviving a Roman crucifixion.

Jesus was killed on that cross and then his body was laid in a tomb, dead.

And then when it was legally permissible, a few days later, some women went to the tomb where of cleaning up Jesus' beaten, mutilated, dead body. But when they got there, the tomb was empty. The cloths that he was wrapped in were lying there, but the tomb was empty. And even the opponents of Jesus tried to make up a story as to why the body was missing. All accounts that we have for the resurrection say something interesting. They all say that it was women who were the first to the tomb and women to first make this announcement that Jesus had been risen from the dead.

But you need to understand something about this. This was from a time and a culture that did not see a woman's testimony as valid. A woman's testimony wouldn't have been held up in legal court. And yet all of the Gospels attribute women as the first to announce that Jesus has been raised from the dead. Why? Why during a time in the culture did the Gospels hang the thing that hangs our faith upon the testimony of women when their testimony wasn't seen as valid? I'll tell you why. Because it must have been true. It must have been actually how it actually happens, that Jesus rose from the dead.

Lack of time to establish a myth

Which leads to the second thing, just the lack of time that we have to establish a myth. Simply put, the time between the death of Christ and the first accounts of His resurrection, both verbal and written, leaves no time for myth to develop.

No sources during that time argue the fact that Christians believe that Christ rose from the dead.

They all point to that. We have Roman letters stating this. Josephus, the Jewish historian, records this. There are no early historical documents or contemporary documents from that time that refute this. That Jesus Christ rose from the dead, that Christians believe this happened. All the documentation that we have, the earliest documentation from that, comes from within that generation meaning 20 to 40 years after Jesus rose from the dead and listen to me historically speaking that's immediately simply put there's no time for myth to develop and add to that none of the early documents none of the early account of the resurrection embellish the story with extravagant language which is what historians normally look for to determine if something's a myth. It's actually pretty underwhelming and under remarkable how the Bible talks about the resurrection of Jesus It doesn't embellish it. It doesn't use extravagant language. It just kind of tells us what happened Why because you have to remember that the Gospels record the resurrection of Jesus. They're simply relaying eyewitness testimony of something that actually happened. And not just something that happened But something that led people to give their lives for this. They all gave up their life for this. Jesus Christ died on a Roman cross. This is undisputed. And yet all of his followers, all of his disciples were martyred for their belief in Jesus. All minus John, by the way. He actually did live into his old age, but we have tremendous amounts of numerous accounts of him being tortured throughout his life and surviving those tortures. They were all either tortured or killed.

But some of you might say, wait a second, hold on here. Other people are martyred for their religion. Does that prove and validate their faith, their religion? No, no, and here's the key difference. Those other martyrs, they die for ideals taught by someone they know and claim to be dead. But the disciples died, listen to me, not for just a set of ideals. They didn't die just for religion. They died for a man. A man that they said rose from the dead, and they encountered after he rose from the dead. They all knew Jesus died, and yet they died for him.

Listen, no one dies for what they know to be a lie. We die for what we know to be true. If Jesus, if Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, his movement should have ended like so many throughout history. But it didn't. Not only did it spread, it rapidly spread. This Jesus movement rapidly expanded throughout the world, not because a good man was martyred and that's an inspiring story. The spark that ignited this rapid expansion of the Christian faith was the resurrection of Jesus. That this man who was killed walked out of his grave. That is what sparked Christianity and the light shines on the evidence that this did happen. Jesus Christ died on Friday, April 1st, in the year 33 AD. And then, on the most important day in history, Jesus Christ rose from the dead on Sunday, April 3rd, in the year 33 AD. And because of this historical fact, the light shines in the darkness. Because of this historical fact, we actually have true hope. Because of this historical fact, we can believe in a love beyond a cultural context. Because this actually happened in history. history, but the question remains, do you believe this?

A movie came out in late 2021. Now we were still kind of emerging out of COVID during that time. And so this movie kind of flew under the radar, but this movie came out in 2021 and it dealt with the concept of what is real. See, this movie was based around this, this tension about whether or not we are living in the real world or if we're living in a computer-based simulation run by AI machines. And the reality for this movie was that people were actually living in a computer-based simulation run by evil artificial intelligence. But people didn't know this. But the AI machines that were enslaving humanity in this simulation, they realize something about humans. That people ultimately don't care if it's real or simulation. And a conversation happened in the movie that I want to share with you that I thought was just remarkable. So the antagonist, the bad guy, the bad AI machine, was having a conversation with the protagonist, the good guy who was trying to free everyone. And I think what this machine tells this person is so true. He said this, it said this.

Humans don't care about facts. It's all about fiction. The only world that matters to them is the one in their head. And you people believe the craziest things. Why? What and makes your fictions real? Feelings.

And that came from Hollywood, by the way.

Here's what this means for Easter. For so many people, it does not matter the amount of evidence for the resurrection of Jesus I can place before you. For 90% of the people out there, truth and facts don't matter. What matters to them is their feelings on the matter. Jesus Christ actually rose from the dead. The overwhelming historical evidence is undisputed for this. But for so many people, they still say, so what? And then they turn to what they feel about the matter. And you must believe this for yourself. Because the light shines on the evidence, but also the light shines to those willing to look. So back to our Bible, let's go back to our story. The disciples saw the empty tomb. Okay. Peter and John, they rush in, they see his clothes lying there empty. The tomb is empty. And then look what the Bible says. Then the disciples went back to their homes. They looked upon the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, and then they went home. So many people, that is exactly what happens. You're presented with truth, you're presented with facts, you're presented with history, you see the evidence before you, and then you just go home. But not Mary. But not Mary.

Look at verse 11.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

The disciples missed this. They just missed this. They missed this because they went home. They were like, wow, yeah, tomb's empty. His clothes are laying right there, but we got to get lunch ready. The in-laws are Yeah, the tomb's empty. That's kind of weird, but we got to make sure the kids get home in time to open up their baskets. They were like, yeah, the tomb's empty, but we got better things to do. The game is on. We got to get brunch ready. But Mary stayed, but Mary stayed and she went back into the tomb, listen to me, she kept looking and Jesus found her. She looked for herself and Jesus found her. I think so many people, which is so sad in this world, I think so many people get their understanding of Jesus and Christianity from critical, uncharitable and cynical voices online.

So many people get their perception of Christianity from memes on social media and they don't have the wits to look past that or to see the propaganda for themselves, they won't look past that and look for themselves. Or maybe, which even breaks my heart more, people had bad experiences from church and that's turned them off to the reality of Jesus Christ. So here's what I'm going to say to you. Here's what I'm pleading with you. See for yourself. Look for yourself. Look past the jargon of our world. Look past the cynicism of our world and look for yourself. The disciples saw the evidence and they went home but Mary stood. She wept and she didn't move past the moment. She went into that tomb to see. I love this line.

But Mary, but Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept through her own tears, she looked for herself, and she went into the tomb.

Mary kept looking, and Jesus appeared to her, because the light shines to those willing to look. I can put all the evidence before you, but some of you just simply don't care, or you simply don't want it to be true. But for those of you with an open heart who are willing to seek the truth, the light is there. Mary stood in that darkened tomb, and listen to me, this is such a prophetic spiritual picture.

Don't move past this. Mary stood in that tomb looking into the dark, but Christ called her name. And so what does she do? She turned from the darkness and she answered Jesus and she turned towards him and she saw the light. That is a picture of our lives and our salvation. We all stand looking into the darkness of this world, into the blackness of our own soul, into our own sin and the depths of despair. But Jesus stands and calls our name. And all we do is turn from that darkness. We repent from our sin and turn towards Christ. And then we see the light, and that is salvation. When the disciples only saw an empty tomb, they just went home. But when the disciples encountered the resurrected Jesus, they willingly went to their deaths for Him.

The light shines through those who have seen the light

This shows us the last thing, that the light shines through those who have seen the light. So Mary freaks out. She sees Jesus. She freaks out. She runs to give him a hug and Jesus is like, whoa, whoa, whoa, calm down Mary. Hold on. Don't hold on to me just yet. Listen, I've got something to do, you've got something to do, we've got something to do. So right now you need to go tell the disciples that I'm alive. And then Jesus. Jesus, the Savior of the world in the most profound moment in all of human history, Jesus gives her, Mary Magdalene, a woman with such a dark past, with her eyes wet with tears, makeup running down her face, he gives her the honor of being the very first to announce that he is risen. So Mary went and announced to the disciples, I have seen the Lord. She had seen the light and Jesus is telling her, now that you've seen the light you have the light now.

It's time to shine the light because the light shines through those who have seen the light and the light is Jesus Christ and the darkness cannot overcome him. The religious leaders could not silence him the Roman Empire couldn't stop him The devil himself couldn't distract him, and death itself could not hold him back. This is our king. See, we all have sin in our lives, and this sin, we all know it. It's the things that we do that we know we shouldn't do. And that sin isn't in any innocent thing. That sin makes us stand condemned rightly before God, worthy of death, worthy of eternal separation from God. And that punishment we all deserve, that's the reason that Jesus Christ went to the cross, so that He would pay it on our behalf, so that we wouldn't have to. He stood in our place taking our punishments, so that we could have life, so that His light, His life, could be in us. And with that light we have eternal life with that light we have restoration and a relationship with God.

That very same relationship that sin has broken. Wherever you are. Wherever you are in your belief, whether you are a hardened atheist or you are a hard Christian wherever you are. I Believe God has sent me here to tell you this. He wants you back. And he went at the most extreme lengths to get you back. He sent his son to pay a debt that you could never pay, out of love to draw you back to himself. God wants you back. And I believe he's calling to you now, just as Christ called to Mary, I believe in the most profound love there is, God is calling to you. He is calling to you to turn from your sin, to have freedom from guilt, freedom from shame, freedom from your past, freedom that only comes through Jesus Christ. Friends, the Bible makes it real clear, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you are saved. That's your theological test. You confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead.

So let today be the day of salvation for you. Whether you're coming to Christ for the first time or you're coming back to Him, let today be the day that you find your home in the one that truly, truly loves you. The truth is, everyone here, right now, is making a decision about Christ. You're either going to look upon the empty tomb and go home, or you're going to answer the call of Christ on your name. It's one of those options. Everyone here is making a decision for Christ. So here's what I'd say. We're about to worship, and if you are a Christian who loves the Lord, and you're walking with the Lord, then I am saying right now, let the Spirit fill you so that as we sing, the worship rises to heaven, and it's so deep that it sinks and shakes the gates of hell. If it's time for you to turn from the darkness and turn to the one that truly loves you, if it's time to repent and place your faith in Christ during our next song or after the next song. We're going to have people in this room wanting to pray with you and talk with you and love you and care for you. Whether you're doing that for the first time or maybe there's some of you that you've strayed and you just happened to walk into these doors, someone's wanting to pray with you. We are a church that wants to love you and walk alongside you. So we're going to spend a few moments in worship. And again, if you have claimed the name of Christ and you are saved, so let heaven and hell know it by the way you sing.


Would you please stand? If you are part of the team that's going to be praying, you can make your way over there now. If you want prayer, either to receive Christ, to come back to Christ, or maybe there's just something going on in your life or someone else's life and you want to pray over that, we've got a prayer team ready for you. But for those who are going to stay, let's bow our heads. Let's prepare our hearts for worship. Father, we come before you. Lord, as we think about these barns all falling down, Lord, we know that it's just reminiscent of our world falling apart. And Lord, you are the only one that can save it. So, Father, I pray here and now, Lord, that all of us would turn from the darkness and we would turn towards Christ. Lord, I pray by the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit, you'd fill this place. You'd fill the chapel, you'd fill the venue, you'd fill this place. You'd fill your people, Lord, that we would sing and our voices would rise to heaven and we'd sing so deep it shakes the gates of hell. Because our King is alive. Father I pray for those who are seeking prayer. Father I pray that you meet them exactly where they are. Father thank you for them. Thank you Lord for what you've done for us on the cross. Oh praise the name of Jesus. Father fill this place by the power of your spirit that we may worship our risen Savior, your Son. And it's in His name we pray these things. And everyone said very loudly, Amen. And everyone said very loudly, Amen. very loudly, Amen.

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